tv Focus on Europe PBS August 1, 2015 6:00pm-6:31pm PDT
damien: hello and a very warm welcome to "focus on europe" -- with a look at the personal stories behind the big headlines. i'm damien mcguinness. and we've got some really great stories for you this week from some pretty unusual parts of europe. the faroe islands -- between east and west when it comes to russian sanctions. refugees fleeing to europe -- one man's journey. and italy -- are the knives out for the swordfish? when you're in the u.s., the war of sanctions between russia and the west because of the ukraine conflict, all seems quite abstract. but here in europe you just need
to take a look at what's on supermarket shelves, to see that sanctions are having an affect on the lives of ordinary people. the other day i noticed that sparkling wine from crimea appears to have vanished from my local supermarket in berlin, not that i miss it. bit sweet for my taste. but of course that's rather a frivolous example compared to the economic hit whole industries have taken, from polish apples to german heavy machinery. but as trade ties start shifting, there are others who are turning the sanctions to their advantage, including salmon farmers on the faroe islands. reporter: hedin is happy with his lot. although he's not much of a talker -- like many fishermen, or rather ex-fishermen. these days he works on a salmon farm. >> normally, we start at 8:00 in the morning. it's a steady job. you know what you're going to earn and that you're going to get your money.
fishing was an unreliable business! sometimes you had a good week. sometimes you set out to sea for days without catching anything. security, that's the most important thing about working on a salmon farm! reporter: in recent years, salmon farms have been popping up alll over the faroe islands. almost every bay is dotted with the huge net-cages, in which the fish are bred. that's true of hvannasund, too. the bay has given its name to the village on its shores -- at the far edge of europe. almost everyone used to make a living from fishing here.
today, there's only one full-time fisherman. everyone else works in the nearby salmon farm. the local mayor is happy because fish stocks around the islands have become heavily depleted. and hvannasund is very remote -- even for the faroes. the future of her village would have looked bleak. >> if we didn't have this fish farming, then we would have a real problem! because the changes in fishing have been great! reporter: the faroe islands still live from fish. salmon production has more than doubled in the last five years. the conditions here are ideal for aquaculture -- these salmon meet the highest standards.
but at the moment the industry here is profiting even more from international political events, namely the ukraine crisis. the islands' main competitors, norway and scotland, have been badly hit by the ban on agricultural imports imposed by russia in reaction to western sanctions. the faroes, on the other hand, have been exempt from the import ban because the government didn't sign up to the western trade embargo. >> we felt that we would be again hit on an embargo to russia, which was joining us and was together with us when the eu embargo was against us from the eu. we felt that we would not be part of that embargo from the eu and we would stick to that partnership, which we have been doing for many, many years. reporter: the faroe islanders
reject any criticism of the exports. they remember only too well that the eu banned herring and mackerel imports from the islands two years ago because of alleged overfishing. for more than a year, the islands lost an important market. for the government, that's reason enough to insist on their independence. >> the eu could learn that it's sometimes not too good to bully. they were very bullying against us. as a small nation! reporter: and yet the faroe islands were not completely innocent in the dispute over fish quotas. unilaterally, they more than tripled their herring quota in the north sea, making things tricky for denmark. the islands are part of the danish kingdom, but are not a member of the eu. the danes didn't want the embargo, but had to implement it as a member of the eu. fish is a highly sensitive issue on the faroes.
even the opposition only expressed mild dissent -- warning against deepening the rift with the west too much. >> it's not a crime not being sanctioned, so we trade. there comes to the political part, the strategy part. i think it's very important that we stand by the west and we understand what europe is doing, what the us is doing, what nato is doing and we support that. reporter: the salmon industry prefers to remain tightlipped. they fear the dispute between east and west could dididiupt business. the biggest producer bakkafrost is careful in its choice of words. >> the good access that we have to all markets are vital to us. this is the case in the far east, in the us and, of course, also for russia. reporter: hedin isn't worried about the dispute as long as his job remains secure -- and he has the chance to put out to sea now and then.
fishing has become just a hobby for many people here in hvannasund, at the far edge of europe. damien: i can remember when the berlin wall came down 25 years ago, and we all thought that was the end of the iron curtain that separated east and west. well now another barrier is being built in eastern europe- -- this time in hungary, and its purpose is to keep refugees out of europe. most are fleeing war and persecution in places like syria. if they manage to survive crossing the mediterranean, they make it to greece, they then have to walk hundreds of miles through the balkans to hungary, because, if they make it across the hungarian border, it can then be easier to reach western europe, the final aim. but it's a perilous journey as
our reporter found out. ((when -- out. reporter: it's a risky endeavor. ahmad shehabi is trying to reach germany. a syrian of palestinian descent, he's already made it to greece. he came on a rubber boat to the island of samos, where he then landed in jail. >> they don't take gave us any cover or any sleeping bag. we sleep like this, on our back, like this, without anything. and it was cold, very cold. we have children, we have families. reporter: every day, hundreds set out from thessaloniki in hopes of crossing the balkans to western europe. they're supposed to apply for asylum in greece, but that's an unattractive option. and the greek police also prefer to let them continue. ahmad shehabi heard about this back at home. he prepared online for his journey, so well that he can even help others.
>> he wants to cross with us macedonian borders, and he want to -- he wants to go to germany. reporter: from the station at idomeni, near the border, it's about three hours on foot to macedonia. they're all afraid of encountering border police. macedonia is also trying to keep out asylum-seekers. >> there is police there. they didn't allow do that people to cross border. reporter: but this group is lucky. after about two hours, they cross the border. after a brief rest, they continue onward. their relief is visible. >> this is our location, we are now inside macedonia. this is the first step. reporter: but then they run into an unexpected problem. they don't know where to continue.
>> do you speak english? reporter: the group is getting ever larger as more migrants join them. they decide to give up their trek and head for the nearest train station. ahmed knows that macedonia has recently started vaccinating refugees and giving them transit papers. the authorities here are also trying to encourage migrants to continue onwards. >> that allow us to use train and general transportation. so tomorrow morning at 5:00 we can take a train to skopje or komonovo. reporter: they've been traveling for ten hours. at the train station in the macedonian town of gevgelija, most have to rest for a bit. the next morning, they're joined by more migrants, this time from somalia. the train journey to the city of kumanovo near the serbian border takes three hours. but the train is hopelessly overcrowded.
it's a grueling journey, but they want to hurry onward. the migrants have heard that hungary is planning to build a fence, a barricade to ward off refugees. four days later, ahmad has made it to belgrade in serbia. serbia does its best to ignore the migrants. ahmad has to continue onward, illegally. >> just go to hungary, we don't have this paper. we asked them why? and, when we can get this paper? they told us, don't discuss with us, just there is no paper, just go to hungary. don't stay here. reporter: shortly after this scene, near the hungarian border, the group is stopped. it's the police and they want a bribe of 20 euros. it's a dirty business. the tension rises again. achmad has heard that the hungarian police use dogs and weapons to go after migrants. theycross into hungary under
cover of night. again they're on foot, trekking 20 kilometers through the forest, the mud and the rain. they keep an eye out for trouble and stay alert. eight hours later, they take a short break. they're desperate to leave the hungarian border region behind them as quickly as possible. >> we are at the hungarian borders, we have five kilometers to the third village, its name is szeged. and there we can take a taxi to budapest. reporter: near szeged, they say their goodbyes. they made it this far as a group, but now they have to continue onward alone. ahmad always believed he would reach his goal. three weeks later, he was in refugee camp in eastern germany. he'd had a bad moment in hungary, when he was arrested and fingerprinted. the police also took his passport, but then they let him continue. here in germany, he's received a three-month residence permit.
>> here i can study anything here, i want to study, and i can work. i have friends here, and the weather is very good. reporter: the journey from greece was a difficult one, but countless migrants attempt it every day. ahmad shehabi has arrived in germany. here, he hopes, his new life will begin. damien: what an eye-opener to see the journey that people who might end up on the streets of european capitals have made to get here. it's a difficult political issue though. and one that's dividing europe. some countries, such as britain and many eastern european states, are refusing to take in more refugees. what do you think? are europeans doing enough to help refugees? let me know by getting in touch on twitter, email or facebook.
but now to switzerland, a beautiful country with a reputation for lots of specialities. some very good, such as chocolate and luxury watches. others less impressive, such as being a good place for dubious dictators or dodgy businessmen to hide their equally dodgy cash. until recently that is, after growing international pressure switzerland has been clamping down on banking secrecy laws - -- making it harder to money launder illegally-gotten gains. but the rich are ingenious and have found a different product to hide cash in. reporter: it's billed as "the world's premier modern and contemporary art show" -- and art basel probably is in terms of visitor numbers, turnover and profit. it's never short of buyers with the requisite spare change. works with a total value of 3.3 billion euros were up for grabs in june.
the annual art fair is a magnet for millionaires and billionairesfrom across the world. >> the trend has been upwards for about 10 years now. reporter: so what is behind this boom in the art sector? and why has switzerland become such a hub? we ask three swiss art-world experts. andrea raschèr, art consultant. thomas christ, regulatory expert. and monika roth, professor of law. >> with banking secrecy becoming obsolete, and growing insecurity on the financial markets, art is one of the last bastions where you can invest money securely. >> it's not easy to put a suitcase full of money in a bank account anymore, so people are looking at real estate or the art market. >> it's a paradise in terms of regulation and enforcement. lax enforcement has seen the swiss art market become a playground for shady businessmen with money to launder. switzerland does not have the
strict laws that the eu does in this field. cash transactions are perfectly normal, with no questions asked. that discretion is a major attraction. another tempting factor is the country's free ports, especially in geneva. the high-security warehouses are believed to contain art, jewelry and other assets worth in excess of 80 billion euros -- tax-free and with no time limit. and demand is on the rise. >> they enable art to be stored relatively anonymously, with no information on the owner. there are many changes of owner. and there is the problem of art being stored for decades in customs-free warehouses, which is obviously contrary to the point of freeports. and there are many similar freeports outside switzerland too, such as singapore. secretive repositories are a global business.
officially, of course, nobody supports any kind of illicit practices. yves bouvier has always denied it. he's head of a swiss art shipping and storage business and the largest operator in the geneva freeport. >> we'd rather lose customers than get into trouble. reporter: except bouvier got into very deep trouble. he was arrested in monaco in february and charged with price manipulation and money laundering, and is now looking at a lengthy prison sentence. but his is far from the only high-profile fraud case on the art market. could self-regulation be the answer to this widespread abuse of the system? thomas christ drew up proposals to that effect back in 2012, but to no avail. the industry showed little interest in cleaning up its own tarnished image. >> the fear of a dent in turnover weighed heavier than a dent in reputation.
so the issue was put on the back-burner. reporter: the swiss authorities could fill the gap with legislation. seeing little urgency, however, the government instead deferred the issue to parliamentary committees and commissions -- which have yet to produce any results. the lobbyists seem to have the upper hand. citing their rights to privacy, the big players are successfully resisting regulation. >> these privacy rights are repeatedly violated. so my answer is no. i don't believe we need that. reporter: although smaller galleries are gradually having a re-think about changes. >> sometimes an agent turns up and says he wants to buy a work for an important collection. the sale is done in the name of some unknown company, and then
you find out it was a russian collector with the money coming from the cayman islands. reporter: a lone voice in a concert dominated by the big-name galleries, profiting from the dying days of banking secrecy. with the art market increasingly becoming a vehicle for money laundering, international pressure on switzerland is growing to rethink it's policy. damien: finally to italy -- for the first in our special summer series focusing on europeans whose whole lives depend on the sea. this week we've been talking to fisherman in the region of calabria -- whose centuries-old job seems almost mythical, they
harpoon swordfish, a traditional delicacy in the region. but new modern ways of fishing mean that the swordfish could be in danger, as our reporter has been finding out. reporter: it's 7:00 a.m. at the strait of messina. it looks like just a normal stretch of the mediterranean -- except for the boats with the towering masts with people perched atop. someone also appears to be floating across the water, standing on an arm stretched far out in front. these vessels are called feluccas -- fishing boats invented in ancient greece, which have been specially redesigned for hunting swordfish. the people up in the look-outs 27 metres above sea level navigate the boat and spot prey. climbing up there is difficult and dangerous with no safety harness. the harpoonist makes his way to the front of the boom. once the helmsman is in place,
the felucca can begin the hunt for highly-coveted swordfish. giuseppe is a veteran swordfish hunter here on the strait of messina. the crew that he's joining today are all friends of his and he's expecting a good haul. >> the fish come really near to the coast at the moment, it's the right season. now it's just up to the helmsmen and the harpoonist to do their jobs. reporter: today each lucca has a huingrou cerintw miles. the k to steer so that thhaoost ied directly above the fish. >> they swim here in shallow coastal waters just low the surface. but only for a minute or two. so the harpoonist has to strike quickly before they vanish.
giuseppe has gone out with this particular fishing boat many times. she's called patriarca secon. reporter: marco, giovanni and camelo will be in the control tower, keeping lookout for veral urs. the final preparations are underway down on deck, such as fitting the ropes for the harpoon. and then it's all go. the harpoonist -- aptly named fortunato --- was certainly fortunate this time. there was no escape for the fish. the five-prong harpoon plunged deep into the swordfish. this is an extremely dangerous moment for the men. the creature battles to defend itself and the spear of a swordfish can cause serious injury. >> it takes all our collective
strength to restrain the fish, otherwish it can jump. we do this until it loses all its energy and dies. reporter: fortunato is already back at his post. he strikes another fish a few hundred metres from the beach. but up in the look-out they're not happy. the swordfish hasn't been struck properly, and its pulling on the line with all its strength. it's going to take a long time to reel it in. >> the animal tries to dive back down. to drain the fish's strength, you have to keep releasing the line and then reeling it back in again. this one is refusing to give up the fight. reporter: but in the end, the men's brute strength wins through.
the swordfish is marked so it's clear at the fish market that it was caught by hand and not fished commercially. >> we don't fish, we hunt. there's no net and no hooks -- just a harpoon. when you see the fish you need to have lightning fast reactions, just like a hunter with his shotgun. reporter: fortunato isn't always lucky. today there are fish, but for many years the number of swordfish in the mediterranean has been declining, forcing many people in messina to give up traditional hunting long ago. >> how can a fishing boat like this with a crew make money? the costs are often higher than the return. it's really not worth the effort anymore if there's no profit.
reporter: there used to be dozens of feluccas plying the strait between sicily and calabria during the summer hunting season. now most of them are sitting on dry nd, cludg giuseppe's felucca. giuseppe didn't stand a chance against the trawlers with their commecial fishing equipment. swordfish hunters like him have no lobby in italy anymore. giuseppe wants to scrap his boat now. it means he'll get a payout from the government in rome. it's of little interest to them that this custom in the mediterraean is dying out. swordfish hunting has been providing food and work for centuries, as well as a sense of tradition and identity -- which is now sadly under threat here in messina.
[music] underwriting for autoline this week provided by: tenneco, borgwarner, and deloitte. here is your host, john mcelroy. i want to thank you all for joining usn autoline this week. you know, we often talk about the light car and truck market on this show, today we're going to change that up a bit. we're going to talk about the commercial truck market in north america, and i've got three experts joining me on this show to discuss it, including: john ruppert, the general manager for the north american fleet, lease, and remarketing operations at the ford motor company. rich shearing is the president of penske